The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s licensing process can be confusing. If you’re struggling with some basic questions, read on for the answers.

1. What Are Retailers?

The TABC licenses and permits system has three different tiers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. Basically, manufacturers produce alcoholic beverages, wholesalers get them from manufacturers to retailers, and retailers sell them to consumers. A retailer can be any store, restaurant, or bar that sells alcohol. Generally, you will need to get a license or permit specific to your tier and business type.

2. What Type of Permit Do You Need?

The license you need depends on your business model. For the most up-to-date list, you should visit the TABC website. If you can’t figure out which one to apply for, you can call your local office.

3. How Do You Get a License?

The first step is applying for and getting any certifications required by the city, county, and state. Next, you should submit your application to the TABC’s local office. Then, you will need to post a 60-Day Sign and release a statement in your local newspaper.

4. How Do You Get a Bond?

Some licenses require a bond, and you can get the necessary forms for these online and submit them to the TABC’s office. Ask your local office if you don’t know if you need one or which type to apply for.

5. How Long Will It Take?

Generally, you can obtain a permit in 45 to 60 days. However, the length of time can be longer or shorter based on the certification requirements for where you are located and what type of license you applied for. Because the process can take more than two months, you need to get started well before offering alcohol.

6. Can You Give Away Alcohol Without a Permit?

You can give away free alcohol without a TABC license. This is legal. However, for your beverage to be completely free, you must be willing to give it away to anyone. If it is only for paying customers, this is not considered free. When you give away alcohol only to paying customers, you need a permit. This is because the expectation of money counts as a sale. You also cannot ask for a donation or tip in exchange for the free alcohol. If you ask for either of these, you will need a permit.

Many businesses have questions about the TABC permitting system. By learning these answers, you can make sure you follow the law.